Set at the edge of Minnesota's Superior National Forest and the glistening lakes of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Ely, a cozy town of 4,000 or so, is an outdoors enthusiasts paradise. Boasting access to some of the best fishing in North America, the five hundred lakes speckled through the area make this a top-ranked destination for canoers, anglers and the like. And even when icy temperatures make wielding a paddle difficult, Ely blooms dogsledding is all the rage come winter snows, and curious visitors can sign up to "gee" and "haw" for a few days with an experienced musher and team.
Local operators can arrange for organized canoe trips in BCWAC, and outfit independent travelers with the gear they need to slip away across some watery stretch, entertained, on a starry night, by the dance of northern lights. Even avid paddlers might require some sort of respite from endless lakes, and hiking or mountain biking some of the trails looping around near Ely are a good way to get some exercise along with a change of scenery.
Should inclement weather slow visitors down to a stay-in-Ely pace, head for the International Wolf Center to learn more about area wildlife, explore regional history at the Ely-Winton History Museum, tour historic sites out and about on a guided tour or just sit back and have a sweat in the local sauna, Ely Steam Bath.
Accommodation options in the area include full-service resorts, hotels, houseboats, bed and breakfasts, cabins and campsites, depending on the visitor.
Ely is 112 miles north of Duluth.